As dad works, Yang Zhiyang, 22, serves as full-time caregiver for parent with ALS
Yang Zhiyang from Baoji, Shaanxi province, has become an inspiration to young people as he works full-time to take care of his mother, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disorder.
Xinhua News Agency reported that his mother, Su Jing, came down with the disease in 2010. Yang, then 10, has since taken on the role of caregiver as the disease gradually took away Su's ability to care for herself.
As his father worked to earn money for the family, Yang would take care of Su after school every day.
Now 22, Yang helps his mother with daily tasks such as bathing, feeding and physical exercises to help her maintain her mobility.
As the disease progressed, Su's muscles atrophied, so she needs to be carried up and down the stairs.
She later developed an eating disorder and now has difficulty swallowing and speaking. She can still type on her mobile phone, but most of the time, she chooses to communicate with Yang in another way.
"My mother and I basically rely on eye contact. She gives a signal through a look, and I know what to do," Yang was quoted as saying.
"We use eye contact for most of our communication. I need to constantly pay attention to her eyes. For example, when she wants to rest, her eyes indicate that she is tired, and she turns her head towards the bedroom. When she needs water, she will look at the water cup on the table," Yang told cnr.cn.
Su generally consumes soft noodles and liquids, and feeding requires patience. Feeding her a bowl of rice takes about an hour on average.
"For many things, we have to be extremely careful, including helping her bathe and use the toilet," he told Xinhua, adding that though the work is difficult, he cherishes all the time he spends with her.
Washing Su's feet, giving her massages and helping her do squats can alleviate her symptoms.
Yang takes her hand and accompanies her every time she exercises. To make it more fun, he often sings to her.
"People with ALS are easily tired and often want to shirk exercise. I want to find various ways to take her for more training," Yang told Xinhua.
Not stopping there, he also learned to assist Su with hairstyling and makeup, ensuring that she remains confident and dignified.
"I majored in sports, and I didn't know about how to do these things before. So I learned how to apply foundation and face cream," Yang was quoted as saying.
Now he can skillfully trim Su's eyebrows, dye and braid her hair, and dress her.
He also sometimes takes her out to go shopping and eat hot pot.
Yang's devotion to his mother has touched hearts and inspired many people in his community and online. Strangers have donated funds and medicine to them, Xinhua reported.
"The mother looks young and beautiful thanks to the care," one comment on Sina Weibo read.
Another post read, "The mother is unlucky to have the disease, but lucky to have the son."
Yang said it's only natural that he should take care of Su.
"My mother raised me. I am just doing what a son should do. I want to do my best to help my mother live happily," he told Xinhua.
"Before my mom fell ill, she was an intelligent and diligent woman who played a vital role in our whole family. When she was diagnosed with the illness, my father took care of the family. I feel that this spirit has been passed down to me, so I want to continue. If my mom hadn't gotten sick, I would probably have been a teenager who loved to play around a lot. Now, I feel like I have grown into a man," Yang was quoted as saying by cnr.cn.
His father, Yang Hongming, told Xinhua: "I am busy delivering parcels every day. I leave home around 7 am and don't come back until 10 pm. We rely on my son to do the chores at home, and he is indeed patient with his mother and takes care of her meticulously. Since she got sick, she has never had a bedsore."
Su once wrote, "ALS has stolen my colorful life, but the dark days have been illuminated one by one by those who love me.
"It is your company and care that have made me stronger. In the days to come, I will bravely move forward, breaking through the waves."